There are a few common lessons that get repeated by anyone who takes on the task of assembling a few hundred PCBs, but there are also unique insights to be had. [DominoTree] shared his takeaways after making a couple hundred electronic badges for DEFCON 26 (that’s the one before the one that just wrapped up, if anyone’s keeping track.) [DominoTree] assembled over 200 Telephreak badges and by the end of it he had quite a list of improvements he wished he had made during the design phase.
Some tips are clearly sensible, such as adding proper debug and programming interfaces, or baking an efficient test cycle into the firmware. Others are not quite so obvious, for example “add a few holes to your board.” Holes can be useful in unexpected ways and cost essentially zero. Even if the board isn’t going to be mounted to anything, a few holes can provide a way to attach jigs or other hardware like test fixtures.
Other advice is more generic but no less important, as with “eliminate as many steps as possible.” Almost anything adds up to a significant chunk of time when repeated hundreds of times. To the basement hacker, something such as pre-cut and pre-tinned wires might seem like a shameful indulgence. But cutting, stripping, tinning, then hand-soldering a wire adds up to significant time and effort by iteration number four hundred (that’s two power wires per badge) even if one isn’t staring down a looming deadline.
[DominoTree] also followed up with additional advice on making assembly easier. Our own [Brian Benchoff] has also shared his observations on the experience of developing and assembling a large number of Hackaday Superconference badges, including what it took to keep things moving along when inevitable problems surfaced.
You don’t need to be making batches of hundreds for these lessons to pay off, so keep them in mind and practice them on your next project.
7 thoughts on “These Tips Make Assembling A Few Hundred PCBs Easier”
For your circuits ya dingus.
Did hackaday fire Brian Benchoff?
2-3 weeks ago, the answer was “no”. Seems like he’s still working on something. I miss the Monday HaD links posts by him, tbh =(
I will not be working with the current editors.
Well. That sort of thing requires some explanation – please spill!
I hope you stick around. While I think the snark is a bit much, I do like your writing.
Pogopins are your friend for many test and programming jigs. It’s easy to bodge the same board to have pogopins instead coming up from below.
Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)